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Ukraine: Respect Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Item 10 Interactive dialogue on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights periodic update on Ukraine

Human Rights Watch welcomes the Office of the High Commissioner’s periodic reports on the human rights situation in Ukraine. We value its excellent work in the country.

We share the High Commissioner’s concerns over the impact repeated ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine have on civilians’ lives. The use by all sides to the conflict of heavy weapons in residential areas of conflict-affected regions continues to endanger civilians and damage civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. We urge the Ukrainian government to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and take concrete measures to deter the military use of schools.

We welcome the steps Ukrainian authorities have taken to facilitate civilians’ crossing of the line of contact in eastern Ukraine. But some crossing points remain extremely difficult for civilians, as do those controlled by Russia-backed armed groups.

Complete impunity continues for secret detention and torture of civilians in Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) and authorities of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics. Ukraine’s military prosecutor should prioritize and oversee investigations into such allegations, and Ukraine’s international partners should ensure that it does.

The Ukrainian government has taken actions that restrict media pluralism and freedom of association and are excessive and disproportionate to legitimate security concerns. Two July draft laws propose obligatory public reporting for independent groups and their service providers that is overreaching and unnecessary. These drafts should be rejected. Has the High Commissioner’s office raised concern about the draft laws with the government?

We continue to document the persecution of pro-Ukraine activists and the Crimean Tatar community in Russia-occupied Crimea. We are appalled by the September 11 prison sentence for Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz, and call on authorities exercising effective control in Crimea to release him and end persecution of critics.

Finally, we urge Ukraine’s international partners to make clear to the authorities that their successful partnership can be based only on Ukraine’s respect for human rights and the rule of law. At this Council, and during Ukraine’s 2017 UPR, states should call on the government to reject undemocratic regulations, advance human rights reforms, and fully investigate allegations of arbitrary detention and torture. 

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